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UK coins


Today, UK coins are of a comparatively small number and range compared to pre-decimal coinage. There are many commemorative and bullion coins, not used for general exchange, but circulating currency coins are restricted to just a few denominations.

Many UK commemorative coins are legal tender but, as with some bullion coins, these valuable coins are worth more than their face value.

Some bullion coins, such as the Sovereign – despite having a face value of £1 – are based on old denominations no longer used.

Any list of UK coins, current and withdrawn, must take account of the major changes that took place with the 1816 Great Recoinage and 1971 Decimalisation.
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Great Recoinage of 1816

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The Great Recoinage of 1816 was precipitated by United Kingdom's financial debt from the 1803–1815 Napoleonic War. During the war, a shortage of silver and copper had curtailed the striking of new coins.

Paper money, which had become legal in 1797, and token coins were being increasingly used. Tokens were substitutes for legal tender issued by large businesses and banks. In the short-term these were exchangeable for legal tender, and were meant to allow wages to be paid and transactions made, without the need for coins made of expensive metals.

The Coinage Act of 1816 was passed to address this shortage. It took Britain off a silver standard and onto a gold standard. On the gold standard, new gold coins fixed the pound Sterling to the price of gold and not silver. This allowed new silver coins to be minted with a face value greater than that of their precious metal.

After 1816 the value of sterling silver was fixed by minting 66 shillings from a troy pound of the metal. This established the weight of all silver coins, and later cupro-nickel coins until the 1990s, after which smaller coins were introduced.
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An 1817 Gold Sovereign, one of the first 'modern' UK coins.

This scarce Sovereign was the first of the modern generation of Sovereigns, produced by the Royal Mint as part of the Great Recoinage.

The Coinage Act empowered the Bank of England to begin the Great Recoinage programme. The programme created the £1 gold Sovereigns. The UK Sovereign coin was minted from 22 carat gold, and carried the now famous image of St. George & the Dragon by Benedetto Pistrucci. It was intended to replace the gold, twenty-one shilling, Guinea. New silver shillings, half-crowns and crowns were also introduced.

In the six years following the start of the Recoinage, the Royal Mint struck nearly 40 million shillings, 17 million half-crowns and 1.3 million silver crowns. This was achieved with steam-powered minting technology, developed by and supplied by the Birmingham industrialist, Matthew Bolton.
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Decimalisation 1971
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Today, Britain uses a decimal currency system, with one hundred pennies equalling one pound; but before decimalisation day in 1971 there were twelve pence to one shilling, and twelve shillings to a pound. Meaning there were two-hundred and forty old pence to the pound.

The 1971 decimalisation caused public outrage. Confused shoppers could not understand why the 'simple' pounds, shillings and pence was changing to the complex and incomprehensible decimal system!

Comparison of old UK penny coins versus the current UK coin. .

The new decimal, 1p, penny was smaller and more convenient than the old, 1d, penny. The new decimal coins came in various face values with many new coin designs. This saw the end of many coins denominated in shillings. Some shilling coins, which had exact decimal equivalents, continued to circulate but were gradually replaced.

The one shilling was equal to five new pennies. The two shilling coin – or a florin – equalled ten new pennies. All these coins were gradually withdrawn, ceased to be legal currency, or were replaced by decimal equivalents.

Decimalisation also replaced the old penny coins with new decimal pennies. The old sixpence coin, which was exactly two and half new pennies, was again retained for a short period.

The pound coin, which replaced the one pound bank note, was not part of decimalisation. It was introduced later in 1983.
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List of UK coins

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Common British coins before the Great Recoinage of 1816:
In approximate date order:

Coin Pre-decimal Value (Shillings & Pence) Decimal Value (Pence) First Circulation (Circa) Last Circulation (Circa) Notes
Mite 1/24d 0.001736 450 1485
Half Mark 6s 8d 3.33 500 1400
Mark 13/4d 6.67 500 1400
One Penny 1d 0.42 757 1970
Farthing 1/4d 0.104167 1200 1960
Gold Penny 1s 8d to 2s 8.33 to 10 1257 1265
Halfpenny 1/2d 0.21 1272 1969
Groat 4d 1.67 1279 1662
Quarter Florin (Helm) 1s 6d 7.5 1344 1344
Quarter Noble 1s 8d 8.33 1344 1470
Half Florin (Leopard) 3s 1.5 1344 1344
Florin (Double Leopard) 6s 3 1344 1344
Noble 6s 8d (later 8s 4d) 3.333 (later 4.167) 1344 1464
Half Noble 3s 4d to 4s 2d 1.667 to 2.083 1346 1438 Minted but not circulated.
Half Groat 2d 0.83 1351 1662
Angel 6s 8d 3.333 1461 1643
Rose Noble (Ryal) 10s (later 15s) 5 (later 7.5) 1464 1470
Half Angel 3s 4d (later 5s 6d) 1.667 (later 2.75) 1470 1619
Rose Noble (Ryal) 10s (later 15s) 5 (later 7.5) 1487 1487
Sovereign 20s 100 1489 1604
Shilling 1s 5 1502 1970
Half Crown 2s 6d 1.25 1526 1969
Crown of the Rose 4s 6d 22.5 1526 1551
Crown 5s 25 1526 1965
Half Sovereign 10s 50 1544 1553
Silver Threepence 3d 0.83 1547 1945 Including Maundy Money
Sixpence 6d 2.5 1547 1970
Quarter Angel 2s 10 1547 1600
Rose Noble (Ryal) 10s (later 15s) 5 (later 7.5) 1553 1603
Halfpound 10s 50 1559 1602
Three Farthings 3/4d 0.31 1561 1582
Three Halfpence 1 1/2d 0.63 1561 1870 With breaks in minting.
Half Sovereign 10s 50 1603 1604
Double Crown 10s 50 1604 1619
Spur Ryal 15s 7.5 1604 1625
Unite 20s 100 1604 1619
Rose Ryal 30s 150 1604 1625
Half Laurel 10s 50 1619 1625
Laurel 20s 100 1619 1644
Double Crown 10s 50 1625 1662
Carolus 20s (later 23s) 100 (later 115) 1625 1649
Halfpound 10s 50 1642 1644
Half Unite 10s 50 1642 1643
Triple Unite 60s 300 1642 1644
Unite 20s 100 1649 1662
Broad 20s 100 1656 1656
Fifty Shillings 50s 250 1656 1656
Guinea 21s 105 1663 1799
Two Guinea 40s (later 42s) 200 (later 210) 1664 1753
Silver Twopence 2d 0.83 1668 2019 Including Maundy Money.
Five Guineas 100s (later 105s) 500 (later 510) 1668 1753
Half Guinea 10/6d 5.25 1669 1813
Quarter Guinea 5/3d 2.625 1718 1762
Copper Twopence 2d 0.83 1797 1798
Third Guinea 7s 3.5 1797 1813
Guinea 21s 105 1813 1816

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Coins between the Great Recoinage and Decimalisation:

Coin Pre-decimal Value (Pence) Decimal Value (Pence) First Circulation (Circa) Last Circulation (Circa)
Half Sovereign 10s 50 1817 1937
Sovereign 20s 100 1817 1937
Two Pounds 40s 200 1823 1937
Five Pounds 100s 500 1826 1990
Third Farthing 1/12d

0.03472

1827 1913
Half Farthing 1/8d 0.052083 1828 1868
Groat 4d 1.67 1836 1862
Quarter Farthing 1/16d 0.026 1839 1868
Florin (Two Shillings) 2s 10 1848 1970
Double Florin 4s 20 1887 1890
Threepence 3d 0.83 1937 1970

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Coins After Decimalisation:

Coin Face Value First Circulation (Circa) Last Circulation (Circa) Notes
Half Penny 1/2p 1971 1984

One Penny

1p 1971 Current
Two Pence 2p 1971 Current
Five Pence 5p 1971 1990 Direct replacement for the One Shilling coin.
Five Pence 5p 1990 Current Smaller than the One Shilling coin.
Six Pence 6p 2016 Current Commemorative coin.
Ten Pence (Florin) 10p 1971 1992 Direct replacement for the Florin.
Ten Pence 10p 1971 Current Smaller than the pre-decimal Florin.
Twenty Pence 20p 1982 Current

Twenty-Five Pence

25p 1972 1981 A commemorative (Crown) coin.

Fifty Pence

50p 1969 1997
Fifty Pence 50p 1997 Current Smaller than the first 50p coin.
Round One Pound £1.00 1983 2017
Twelve-sided One Pound £1.00 2017 Current
Two Pounds £2.00 1986 Current Commemorative issue.
Two Pounds £2.00 1998 Current General circulation.
Five Pounds £5.00 1990 Current Replacement for the commemorative 25p Crown.
Gold Britannia £100.00 1987 Current Bullion coin.
Silver Britannia £2.00 1997 Current Bullion coin.
Sovereign £1.00 1957 Current Bullion coin.
Twenty Pounds £20.00 2013 Current Commemorative coin.
Fifty Pounds £50.00 2015 Current Commemorative coin.
One Hundred Pounds

£100.00

2015 Current Commemorative & Bullion coin.